The self-described “boring finance guy” spent 18 years in the corporate world, including stints at the African Development Bank (AfDB) in Nigeria and the Rand Merchant Bank (RMB) in South Africa, before founding Launch Africa. The corporate trip was an imperative rite of passage, particularly in a country emerging from the apartheid era, heralding the dawn of democracy and inviting its educated youth to seize new opportunities.
Holder of a postgraduate diploma in actuarial science from the University of Cape Town, Du Plessis first worked as a corporate finance analyst in Johannesburg for Standard Bank, on the trading desk and then in the team mergers and acquisitions (M&A), before moving on. I then joined Goldman Sachs as an M&A analyst in New York for three years, where life was all work. “People were like, ‘oh, you lived in New York,’ and I was like, ‘I didn’t see anything, I was working.’ But obviously, the world opened up to me. And looking back, Africa really opened up to me. Nobody knew my name. They just called me “Africa,” because I was the only one from the continent.